Hello, 17.

It’s strange to realise that it was ten years ago, when this particular door was first presented to me. At that time, it wasn’t something I even knew of, much less looked to. And in retrospect, much of the past ten years, much of my life has been as such — I never really planned for things to work out one way or the other but simply went along with the opportunities that came up.

I wasn’t always sure if this is the best way to live — to leave so much to happenstance, although I have always been grateful for the many wonderful opportunities that simply came to me. But over time, I came to think that perhaps this is the particular narrative of my life, and what may seem random and serendipitous were all God’s hand in my life.

It’s been ten years now. Later on, I was told that the door I thought closed was not, although I don’t think I ever truly believed that it remained open either. But in this year, this entire chapter is moving to a close — whether it’s through a particular door or others and some of it will be my decision.

Over the past few days, I have thought a lot about this — what I should do, and where I want to be. And I still can’t say what is the exact destination I want for myself.

Except, in the still of my heart, I know that it’s no longer about any one particular door. What I want is — at the risk of sounding trite — is to be who I am, to reflect the values I care about, and to make a difference this way. And this can be done anywhere.

The decision I made to be where I am now, when I had thought the door closed, was just to do what I felt was interesting, and in a place where I thought I could learn and contribute in equal measure. It was never intended to put myself in the view of important people, or back on the path I was on. And so, I accept that today, what I have done in the past two years remains obscure.

But I don’t have a single regret because the past two years were the happiest two years of my work life. And affirmations I most cared about were not from those above me, but from the people I worked with — when a peer said that I had much to contribute if I stayed; when I receive notes on how I have been inspiring as a leader and as a role model for balancing work and family. I hesitate to take credit for these because so much of what I can do and have done is due to the gifts and opportunities I have been blessed with and the support of so many around me. These may never be known to the bosses above me, but I am humbled by the fact that I have had an opportunity to make a difference to the people around me, in a way that will last beyond any single one piece of work.

These ending rites are always filled with uncertainties but I also recall how things were, a decade ago — and it is with a sense of peace and equanimity that I have made the decisions I have to, and to watch things unfold and come to a close.

Ten years ago — even when I wanted something very much, I said, nevertheless, let it be as You, not I, would have it — and I saw how, no matter the number of hoops and hurdles, things that were meant to be will happen despite them.

So it’s a strange full circle to be here again and it is still the same — I know in my heart that if it’s God’s will I can go through the smallest sliver of an opening; but also that I have moved beyond going through any one specific door; and also that in the end, I leave it wholeheartedly and unreservedly to His will.

In the year ahead and always, let it be as You, and not I, would have it =)

Hello, 2017!


Infinite Grace

This time round, my body seem to be working like a very well-oiled machine post delivery. Earlier, I was worried that the recovery would be harder since it’s my second c-section, but everything turned out to be easier than expected!

Right from the surgery, the epidural seemed to work better — I was less “out of it” and had virtually no after-effects compared to Isaac’s delivery. No nausea or “the shakes” which were the more unpleasant effects of having an epidural.

Post surgery, there was also less pain and I was up and about more quickly and with less pain. For some reason, my energy levels are also far higher and I haven’t been feeling the brain fog I did after delivering Isaac. And! The milk supply also came in quickly but without any engorgement or lumps and nursing is coming along well.

I’m very pleasantly surprised by all these and have a few hypotheses on why my body is behaving so well this time! On one hand, maybe it’s some sort of somatic memory — now that I’m doing this for the second time, perhaps my body remembers how to recover, how to nurse and so it got easier. My second hypothesis (at least with regard to the recovering from the surgery) is that perhaps the first c-section deadened some of my nerves around the belly so there’re simply less nerves to convey the pain.

Also! It struck me that perhaps the borderline gestational diabetes was a blessing in disguise because I ate so healthily and kept up steady exercise because of the diagnosis. So it was literally no refined carbohydrates, no sugary drinks, no dessert (except on one or two occasions when there were celebrations at work), no fast food, no hawker food for almost four months! And it wasn’t just not eating unhealthy food, because I was on a restricted diet, I had to consciously optimise what I did eat to ensure that baby got enough nutrients. So there was plenty fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains. I also kept up regular exercise right until the last week of delivery. So perhaps it turned out that I was simply in better shape pre-delivery and hence find myself in a better state after as well.

Quite aside from all these though, what I feel in my heart is that God’s grace is truly infinite — the more we are given to do, the more we will be given to do it, whether it is help and support from others, or a spirit and strength within ourselves =)


Sabbath

A beautiful piece by the late Oliver Sacks I read some time ago.

The last few months have been so busy — work never seemed to end and the demands of both home and work generally melded into each other such that I always seemed to be ticking off items on one checklist or the other.

Now that this current cycle of preparations is finally slowing, I am reminded of this piece on the Sabbath, and how beautiful and meaningful it is to find a time to stop, to be still, and even in a stubbornness to reserve space and time for stillness, come what may.

What I have been very grateful for, in the past months, is the deep hum of peace and purpose even as my days were harried. In this world, it may not always be possible to carve out a full day for quiet contemplation, love and giving, sans work, sans worry, sans other mundane concerns. Once in a while I find such a day (today!) and there is really nothing more restorative than a day middling about, reading, praying, playing with Isaac, visiting family, writing =) But it also takes a certain discipline to not fret and just leave things in God’s hands. And this discipline is built over all the other days when at the end of the long exhausting hours, I ask for strength to do my best again the next day and then trust that things will unfold as they should.

And so, life has been full and fulfilling, I cannot express enough gratitude for that. And no doubt it will be continue to be so in the next few months with new challenges and little Isabel in our lives. So! May we all find peace and rest, at the end of each day, each week, in each small and complete moments in life =)